Dear Andover families (copy to students) –
As we enter the homestretch of Spring Term, I write to update you on Andover’s vaccination efforts and other campus safety measures, as well as our plans for the next academic year.
It is gratifying to see our campus enter the lower risk Yellow Zone, according to our risk stratification tool. This excellent progress is a testament to the efforts of students, faculty, and staff and evidence that our health and safety protocols are working.
This week, 474 students received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This ambitious undertaking required the partnership and collaboration of many, including the medical team at Sykes Wellness Center and more than 50 campus adults who volunteered to accompany students on buses to Lawrence General Hospital’s satellite vaccination site. Thank you to everyone who made it possible. We are eager to repeat this process when students receive their second dose May 19 and 20.
The number of faculty and staff who have been vaccinated is also impressive. More than 85 percent of campus adults have indicated that they have received at least one dose of the vaccine. I expect that percentage will continue to increase closer to 90 percent in the coming weeks and will include many who have received their second dose.
With vaccinations now widely available and crucial toward achieving herd immunity, beginning this Fall Term 2021, Andover will require vaccinations for all students who are eligible to receive them. This currently includes students 16 years and older. In the unlikely event that the Food and Drug Administration does not expand access to those ages 12 to 15, Andover will still require the vaccine for those 16 and older. In all cases, we will follow policy with respect to those seeking religious or medical exemptions.
As eligibility continues to expand, I expect many secondary schools will follow the position taken yesterday by the American College Health Association, which now recommends requiring vaccinations for all students next year.
As I’ve shared previously, also beginning this fall, the Andover program will be delivered in person. There will not be a remote option during the school year. All classes, residential activities, and other dimensions of our program will be conducted in person. We will remain dedicated to campus health as our top priority—following public health guidance and tracking our own community metrics in our commitment to keeping our community safe in the event we need to change course.
We have made meaningful progress this spring term – from in-person learning to consistently low rates of infection, to a vaccination program for eligible students, and so much more. As you may have read, Massachusetts is lifting its outdoor mask mandate today. On campus, however, we will not modify our general mask policy. Given the size of our community and proximity to one another on a residential campus, we will remain conservative on this stance.
With just four weeks left in the term and plans in the works for Senior Week activities and Commencement, the finish line is within view. We will remain vigilant in our efforts to protect our community and support one another. We have much to celebrate, and I remain optimistic for a strong finish to an extraordinary year.
Raynard Kington MD, PhD, P’24
Head of School